A French court has convicted a dozen wine merchants and wine growers for selling and exporting fake Pinot Noir in a lucrative fraud scheme. A leading U.S. wine merchant in the case says he may appeal.

Among others, the fraud victimized California-based giant E. & J. Gallo Winery.

Claude Corset, head of the wine merchant company Ducasse and a leading defendant in the case, told The Associated Press on Thursday that his wine was "irreproachable" and reserves the right to appeal.

A court in Carcassonne, in southwest France, handed him a six-month suspended prison sentence and a $61,000 fine.

Prosecutor Francis Battut said Thursday that Merlot and Syrah grapes were passed off as Pinot Noir in a scheme dating from January 2006 to March 2008.